Denny Hamlin has already accomplished a lot this season, including winning the season opener at Daytona and then again at Texas Motor Speedway, but that doesn’t mean he is without worry. In fact, NASCAR’s newest attempt at fixing qualifying procedure has him very concerned.
NASCAR made yet another swing at trying to make qualifying more interesting this week, which consisted of cutting down the first and second sessions from ten to five minutes. While one would hope that this would create a sense of urgency among drivers to put a qualifying time, it also creates a very chaotic situation in the process.
“We’re worried about it, frankly, especially in the first round. If you average it out, they’re going to have to get through eight cars per minute. If you run three laps, which you typically do in the first round, that’s a minute. And so that means eight cars are gonna have to be on the track at one time — plus you’ve gotta get a new round of cars in once those are done. So that takes an extra 30 seconds.
The reason for the time being reduced is said to be due to NASCAR wanting to make qualifying more exciting for the fans in the stands and those watching on television. Interestingly enough, the procedure didn’t become a problem until NASCAR implemented their new aero package in 2019, which left the sport in a very embarrassing situation.
The reason for this is that while the new aero package has made racing somewhat more competitive, it has forced drivers to rely on drafting a lot more than what they usually would. This means that the first car out on the track for qualifying would be a sitting duck for those behind him to draft off of and try to get a better time.
Unfortunately for NASCAR, things got so bad that during a final qualifying session at Auto Club Speedway, all of the 12 drivers competing for the pole waited to long to complete a lap, forcing the sport to determine the starting field from the second sessions lap times.
“Some guys are gonna get screwed, and it’s gonna be bad Hamlin told reporters, “There’s gonna be people pulling out in front of each other, so that part is going to be pretty tough. It’s just, the mathematics, to me, just doesn’t work. I don’t know whether we’re trying to fit into a TV window or what it might be. “
With that being said, none of Hamlin’s worries were realized during Friday’s qualifying session, but that doesn’t exactly mean that things will be all clear in the future. In fact, as things go on, don’t be surprised if traffic jams, driver mistakes and anger all play a role in future qualifying sessions.
Keep in mind that NASCAR officials are claiming that this procedure is only temporary until they are able to come up with a longterm fix, but in the meantime, its probably going to be pretty chaotic to watch from a fan perspective, especially in that final round!